by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Shrubs have many uses in a landscape, but gardeners who especially appreciate sweet-smelling plants are drawn to the most fragrant shrubs. Whether cold-hardy or tropical, bushes in this group are valued for scenting the air and thereby diversifying the enjoyment of our yards. The blooms on many of these plants also boast great beauty.
Daphne is one of the most fragrant shrubs. It’s endowed with variegated leaves, a compact stature, and matures to about 3 feet tall. It grows best in partial sun to partial shade.
Purple-Leaf Sand Cherry has sweet-smelling blossoms in spring, but this ornamental cherry has decorative value throughout the growing season thanks to its purplish foliage. Purple-leaf sand cherry can reach a tree-like 8 feet tall if allowed, but many gardeners choose to keep it pruned down to a shrub of 5 to 7 feet high. Plant in blistering sun locations, give it adequate drainage, and water it moderately.
Gardenia is easily one of the most fragrant blooming shrubs. Its stark-white blooms stand out against its glossy, dark green foliage. It grows to 4′ tall. This attractive shrub blooms best in partial shade, requires good drainage, a moderate amount of water, and compost. Several locally hardy gardenias are available at Watters Garden Center this spring.
Spice Viburnum is such a fragrant shrub that one of its other common names is “fragrant spicebush.” Grows to 5 feet tall and puts out clusters of sweet-smelling flowers with exceptional fall color. Blooms best in at least 6 hours of sun.
Lilacs are so easy to grow in Arizona and give off a robust fragrance (many of them reasonably new cultivars). Although the traditional common lilac (S.
Roses are practically
synonymous with fragrant shrubs in the minds of many gardeners. Most are compact (3 feet x 3 feet), has
double blooms, is easy to grow, is disease-resistant, and flowers for a long
time. Little wonder that it’s enjoyed a popularity of hundreds of years.
Fragrance Does Not Come Only From Flowers
Lavender is an example of a shrub with a great scent that gets its aroma from its foliage. It often is dried and used in potpourri and sachet bags. Many other perennials, ground covers, and herbs grace the landscape with aromatic leaves. The beautiful thing about relying on foliage (rather than flowers) for fragrance is that leaves stay around a lot longer than a plant’s flowers.
Spring Open House March
16 & 17 – It was 57 years ago this month that
Watters Garden Center opened its doors as the first nursery in Northern
Arizona. This year we will introduce new
plant varieties, new flower colors, and a vast selection of cold-hardy blooming
baskets specially grown for the event.
Meet our growers and talk directly to the plant breeders that have made
Watters Garden Center the favorite of gardeners for all these years.
Until next issue, I’ll be here at Watters Garden Center helping local gardeners choose just the right fragrance for their own gardens.